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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 297-313

Question No. 297 answered with Question No. 295.

Question No. 298 answered with Question No. 295.

Question No. 299 answered with Question No. 295.

Wind Energy Guidelines

Questions (300)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

300. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the timeline for the publication of the revised wind energy development guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61571/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines. The review is addressing a number of key aspects including noise, setback, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections.

Guidance on the noise aspect is currently being finalised by my Department in conjunction with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), which has primary responsibility for environmental noise matters. Significant work has been undertaken on the noise elements and the two Departments recently met to discuss new developments in this regard including consideration of the impact of the revised 2030 target to generate up to 80% of our electricity from renewable sources and the need to ensure that proposals regarding the measurement and assessment of noise from wind turbines are fit for purpose. These aspects are currently being considered and further engagement between the Departments is expected imminently. Following this inter-departmental engagement, I will be in a better position to provide an update on the expected publication date of the revised Guidelines, the finalisation of which remains a priority.

It should also be noted that the review and finalisation of the Guidelines has been included as a specific action in the recently published Climate Action Plan.

When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Planning authorities and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála, must have regard to guidelines issued under section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines remain in force.

Departmental Strategies

Questions (301)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

301. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the timeline for the publication of the national coastal change management strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61572/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The National Coastal Change Management Strategy Steering Group is jointly chaired by my Department and the Office of Public Works (OPW). The Group is comprised of senior officials from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Met Éireann, and the County and City Management Association. The Group met for the first time on 3 September 2020.

Further to the initial meeting of the Steering Group in September 2020, a technical working group was also established under the stewardship of the OPW. The work of this group has focused on the identification and initial analysis of data sources, to underpin the work of the Steering Group.

Since the initial meeting in September, the work of the Steering Group was progressed through a series of bilateral meetings to scope out the extent of the issues, including, inter alia, the threats and effects of coastal change as they relate to the remit of the individual Steering Group members and the wider stakeholders.

The intention of these bilateral meetings has been to give an opportunity to discuss the emerging work of the Group and to stimulate the most effective engagement of these key stakeholders. The meetings to date have been very useful in allowing for issues relating to coastal change management to be reflected upon and explored in the context of the particular operations of the participating organisations.

The findings of the Steering Group are currently being finalised and a scoping report will be presented to Government for consideration early in 2022. The scoping report on a National Coastal Change Management Strategy is intended to provide a framework for key decisions to be taken on how Ireland could best manage its coastline in light of the future risks.

Planning Issues

Questions (302)

Thomas Gould

Question:

302. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of build-to-rent planning permissions approved in County Cork in 2021; and the number of units this equates to. [61582/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Planning statistics are compiled by each planning authority on an annual basis for collation and publication on my Department’s website, at the following link: www.gov.ie/en/service/9e4ee-get-planning-statistics/.

However, the data collected relates to the total number of applications and decisions for all developments that require planning permission, broken down by year and planning authority, but does not give detail on build-to-rent planning permissions approved. Such information may be sought directly from the relevant planning authority.

In addition, the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical office, compiles and makes available detailed data on a number of planning related issues including permissions granted and completions by development type and county. Data is available at the following link on the CSO website: www.cso.ie/en/statistics/construction/planningpermissions/.

Homeless Accommodation

Questions (303, 312)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

303. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage further to Parliamentary Question No. 16 of 11 November 2021, the payments that were made by county in 2021 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61619/21]

View answer

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

312. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the breakdown of the payments drawn down by each local authority to date in 2021 in terms of progressing their homeless action teams and services in tabular form. [61635/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 303 and 312 together.

My Department's role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of emergency accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities.

My Department does not fund any homeless services directly but provides funding to housing authorities towards these costs. Under the funding arrangements, housing authorities must provide at least 10% of the cost of services from their own resources. Housing authorities may also incur additional expenditure on homeless related services outside of these funding arrangements with my Department. Therefore, the exact spending by housing authorities on homeless services, as well as the types of services, are a matter for individual housing authorities in consultation with the Management Group of the relevant regional joint Homeless Consultative Forum, as provided for under Chapter 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.

Exchequer funding for homeless services is provided through my Department to housing authorities on a regional basis. The funding provided for 2020 and 2021 to date is set out below:

Region

2020€m

2021 (to date)€m

Dublin

217,535,359

138,222,775

Mid East

8,500,368

5,192,547

Midland

2,531,226

1,689,450

Mid West

9,188,376

7,174,135

North East

2,935,081

2,056,635

North West

812,285

741,000

South East

3,890,374

3,419,833

South West

16,247,187

11,204,928

West

9,259,668

6,814,185

Total

270,899,923

176,515,489

Certified financial reports, which provide a breakdown of expenditure for each region, are published annually on my Department's website at the following link: www.gov.ie/en/collection/80ea8-homelessness-data/#local-authority-regional-financial-reports.

Certified financial reports for 2021 will be collated early in 2022 on receipt of final end of year financial reports.

Departmental Strategies

Question No. 305 answered with Question No. 260.

Questions (304)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

304. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of the disabled persons strategy as announced in the Housing for All policy; if it is still due to be published in quarter 4 2021 as committed to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61621/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The current National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability will come to an end this year. A new National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022-2027, building on the progress made to date, is being readied for publication before the end of the year.

The strategy and its implementation plan, which will be developed early next year, will set our vision and represent a roadmap to facilitate access for disabled people to a range of housing and related support services, delivered in an integrated and sustainable manner, and promoting equality of opportunity, individual choice and independent living.

Question No. 305 answered with Question No. 260.

Traveller Accommodation

Questions (306)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

306. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his Department has considered transient sites and service areas for Travellers that would be a co-ordinated approach between local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61623/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998 provides that housing authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas. This assessment is across a range of accommodation options including standard social housing and Traveller specific accommodation such as group housing schemes and permanent and transient halting sites.

The Traveller Accommodation Expert Group report includes a recommendation presented in the context of the provision of transient sites which the Programme Board established by my Department will consider in due course.

My Department’s role is to ensure that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist the authorities in providing for the accommodation needs of Travellers, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding.

Defective Building Materials

Questions (307, 310)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

307. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the exact item which must be proven by the IS:465 assessment in order for sampling to confirm the presence of said material and to be included in the scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61624/21]

View answer

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

310. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the precise technical data that is being sought at present from Clare County Council in order to determine if the deleterious material is present in block in homes in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61627/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 307 and 310 together.

My Department received a submission from Clare County Council, dated 23 July 2021, requesting the extension of the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant scheme to County Clare. A response issued to the Council on 3 August 2021 indicating that my Department would review the submission and it also sought a detailed breakdown of costs associated with the Report. A breakdown of costs associated with the Report was received on 28 September 2021.

In order to progress matters a meeting was held on 9 November 2021 between officials from my Department and Clare County Council to review issues which require further elaboration in order to evidentially support an extension of the defective concrete blocks grant scheme to County Clare.

Clare County Council undertook to review their submission in light of the discussion which took place and address the gaps in evidential data which have been identified by my Department. In that regard, the relevant local authority are to continue to take the lead, build on the good work to date and demonstrate damage which has been documented has manifested due to the presence of reactive pyrite, which is crucial for applicants in the existing scheme.

My Department is eager to progress this matter and to that end, issued a correspondence to Clare County Council on the 6 December 2021 outlining formally the nature of clarifications sought.

Any extension of the Scheme to Clare and indeed other local authority areas was considered as part of wider deliberations on the Scheme by Government. To that end, I brought a memorandum to Government on 30 November 2021, setting out proposals for improvements to the existing Scheme. Included as part of these improvements, I as Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, may, with Government approval, extend the scheme beyond the counties of Donegal and Mayo to additional counties, where the evidence supports such an extension.

On receipt by my Department of the clarifications sought, progress can be made on the requested extension of the scheme to County Clare.

Defective Building Materials

Questions (308)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

308. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views on whether there is an issue of discrepancies in testing regimes if local authorities have to foot the bill for testing for deleterious materials themselves; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61625/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department informed those local authorities requesting an extension to the Defective Concrete Block Scheme, that before any extension can be considered, the same rigorous analysis as that put in place prior to the rollout of the scheme to the counties of Donegal and Mayo would have to be undertaken.

Local authorities are to take a lead role in determining, in accordance with the IS: 465 protocol, that issues arising in homes in their local authority area are in fact due to the presence of excessive amounts of deleterious materials (mica or pyrite) in the aggregate used to manufacture the concrete blocks and, secondly, quantify the likely extent of the problem in the county.

My Department, in asking local authorities to take on this lead role, has committed to covering all reasonable costs incurred them by them in this regard. There is therefore no question of local authorities being required to cover the testing costs arising from this work or there being any resulting discrepancy in their approach to testing.

Defective Building Materials

Question No. 310 answered with Question No. 307.

Questions (309)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

309. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his attention has been drawn to the fact that across media channels the defective block grant scheme is repeatedly mooted as a mica redress scheme and that this is impacting very negatively on persons in County Clare who are of the view that they will be excluded from the prospective scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61626/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Dwellings Damaged by the Use of Defective Concrete Blocks in Construction (Remediation) (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2020 provide for a grant scheme of financial assistance to support affected homeowners in the counties of Donegal and Mayo to carry out the necessary remediation works to dwellings that have been damaged due to the use of defective concrete blocks.

Whilst the terms mica or pyrite scheme are used widely in media reporting my Department can confirm that the correct name for the scheme is the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme. Any extension of the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme to additional local authority areas will ensure that homeowners in those counties, whose homes are impacted by excessive amounts of reactive pyrite or mica in the blockwork, in accordance with the IS:465 protocol and the scheme regulations and guidance, would be eligible to apply for grant assistance to help with the cost of necessary remediation works.

Question No. 310 answered with Question No. 307.

Defective Building Materials

Question No. 312 answered with Question No. 303.

Questions (311)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

311. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the reason that no County Clare representative was present on the working group despite commitments to include homeowners from all affected regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61633/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

It is important to note that the work of the Defective Concrete Block working group completed earlier this year with the final meeting of the group taking place on 29 September 2021. I received the final output report in early October which is available on the Departments website

No commitment was given to extend the participation of the Working Group to persons or groups residing outside of Donegal or Mayo. Other interested parties sought admittance onto the Working Group but homeowners were restricted to those from counties within the scope of the Scheme.

The Defective Concrete Blocks Working Group which I established, was tasked with a review of issues of concern which had been raised by homeowners in respect of the current scheme, which applies to Mayo and Donegal only. Under the agreed Terms of Reference, one of the areas in scope for review was the issue of "Eligible Homes". This aspect of the review covered excluded homes in the counties of Donegal and Mayo and homes in local authority areas not currently in the Scheme.

It was considered that homeowners from Donegal and Mayo, who made up 50% of the working group, could adequately represent the views of homeowners who may be affected, regardless of their location.

Any extension of the Scheme to Clare and indeed other local authority areas was considered as part of wider deliberations on the Scheme by Government. To that end, I brought a Memorandum to Government on 30 November 2021, setting out proposals for improvements to the existing Scheme. Included as part of these improvements, I as Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, may, with Government approval, extend the scheme beyond the counties of Donegal and Mayo to additional counties, where the evidence supports such an extension.

On receipt by my Department of the clarifications sought from the Local Authority, progress can be made on the requested extension of the scheme to County Clare.

Question No. 312 answered with Question No. 303.

Tax Exemptions

Questions (313)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

313. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if homeowners in County Clare affected by the material, pyrite, are eligible for the local property tax exemption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61636/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Local Property Tax (LPT) exemption formulated by the Department of Finance only applies to homes which have received a Stage 1 approval – Confirmation of Eligibility letter under the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme. Homeowners outside of Donegal and Mayo are not currently entitled to apply for a Stage 1 approval and therefore an LPT exemption.

If the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme is extended to other local authority areas homeowners in those areas who are impacted will be entitled to apply for a Stage 1 Confirmation of Eligibility. If approved, an exemption from LPT will apply under the terms of the available exemption.

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